Dennis the Menace


Dennis the Menace (1993)


Critic Consensus: Walter Matthau does a nice job as Mr. Wilson, but Dennis the Menace follows the Home Alone formula far too closely.


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Movie Info

John Hughes continues the trend he began with the Home Alone series in Dennis the Menace, the Hughes-scripted film version of Hank Ketcham's long-running comic strip, cartoon show, and television comedy. The film opens as Dennis (Mason Gamble) is seen careening down a sidewalk in a beautiful and idealistic suburban town on his training-wheeled bike -- cans on string clattering behind him, baseball cards flapping in the spokes of the wheel, his red wagon filled to the brim and his dog following him. "Hey! Mister Wilson!" he screams and slams his bike to a halt in front of his much put-upon neighbor, Mr. Wilson (Walter Matthau). Half of the film concerns vignettes of small-town Hank Ketcham life as Dennis' mom Alice (Lea Thompson) starts a new job, Dennis stays over at his friend Margaret's (Amy Sakasitz) house, and Mr. Wilson and his gentle, well-meaning wife, Martha (Joan Plowright), mind Dennis during the night of a big garden party. Through all this, Dennis continually gets into Mr. Wilson's hair. But then the Home Alone plot kicks in -- with an unsubtle dose of O. Henry -- when Switchblade Sam (Christopher Lloyd) makes an appearance. Switchblade Sam is a homeless drifter who combs the neighborhood stealing purses and small home items. But when Switchblade Sam steals Mr. Wilson's collection of gold coins, Dennis comes to the rescue and inflicts Dennis the Menace-type tortures upon the thief in order to reclaim the coins for Mr. Wilson. ~ Paul Brenner, Rovi

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Walter Matthau
as George Wilson
Mason Gamble
as Dennis Mitchell
Joan Plowright
as Martha Wilson
Christopher Lloyd
as Switchblade Sam
Lea Thompson
as Alice Mitchell
Robert Stanton
as Henry Mitchell
Paul Winfield
as Police Chief
Amy Sakasitz
as Margaret Wade
Billie Bird
as Edith Butterwell
Bill Erwin
as Edward Little
Arnold Stang
as Photographer
Casey Gamble
as Hide and Seeker
Daiana Campeanu
as Babysitter
Robert A. Saunders
as Broken Arm Babysitter
Beverly J. O'Donnell
as Elderly Babysitter
Ethel Gerstein
as Gaggle Lady
Rebecca C. Hogan
as Gaggle Lady
Leona Toppel
as Gaggle Lady
Peggy Goldberg
as Gaggle Lady
Jack McGuigan
as Gaggle Man
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Critic Reviews for Dennis the Menace

All Critics (25) | Top Critics (9)

What saves this movie from insipidness is an endearing performance by Walter Matthau as the cantankerous Mr. Wilson.

Jun 12, 2018 | Full Review…

Its unholy mixture of peppy sadism and pious, self-righteous sentiment comes straight from Hughes' crabbed cinematic heart.

Jul 7, 2010 | Rating: D | Full Review…

Very young children may find the numskull, by-the-numbers gags here amusing, but teens will consider this kids' stuff and adults will be pained.

Jul 22, 2008
Top Critic

A smooth blend of sentiment and slapstick.

Jan 26, 2006 | Full Review…
Time Out
Top Critic

Mr. Hughes and Mr. Castle try hard to re-create a kind of timeless, idealized comic-strip atmosphere, but except for the performances of Lea Thompson and Robert Stanton... nobody in the movie seems in touch with the nature of the comedy.

May 20, 2003 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…

Those good qualities are undermined, unfortunately, by the Switchblade Sam character, who is dirty, threatening and scary.

Jan 1, 2000 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Dennis the Menace

OH HELL YEA!!! im bustin this one out tonight! and i aint talkin about Nicky Hilton.

Coxxie Mild Sauce
Coxxie Mild Sauce

Super Reviewer

A highly amusing kids film with a big Home Alone influence I'm sure. Walter Matthau was ideal for the role of Mr Wilson and the film as a whole is a fun watch

Lady D'arbanville
Lady D'arbanville

Super Reviewer

Dennis the Menace is a bad movie, but kids will love it and thats the important thing, that its target audience loves it, and to be honest its pretty funny.

Jim Careter
Jim Careter

Super Reviewer


Dennis the Menace is actually a decent family comedy film that has good moments of comedy. I thought the film was decent, and does bring on a few chuckles. Christopher Lloyd plays the films villain and he used to scare me as a kid. The film is not perfect, but it's fun for what it is. Dennis the Menace is a decent family film, but not one of the classic films. I felt that it lacked something really special to truly make this film a classic. But for what it is, Dennis the Menace is a fun film that is worth seeing once. This is the perfect film to watch as a family, and it has some good, entertaining moments. But as I've said about many films of this caliber, Dennis the Menace is not a film that has stood the test of time, and I don't consider it a classic by any means. The film is decent at best, never great. The cast are good, but the here is of course Christopher Lloyd as the villain, he really has an intense evil look to him that makes you uneasy. Dennis the Menace is a decent film for what it is, and though it won't be remembered as something good, it's still an entertaining film to watch as a family. The film most likely make you smile, but it's not the best. Keep your expectations fairly average for this one, and you may not be disappointed.

Alex roy
Alex roy

Super Reviewer

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